16 Signs of Depression in Young Adults

Signs of Depression in Young Adults and Teens | Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Over 20% of young adults ages 18 – 29 suffer from depression. Left undiagnosed or untreated, depression can lead to serious, harmful behaviors, such as substance abuse, promiscuity, self-harm, violence, or even suicide. This guide will share some of the unique warning signs of depression in young adults.

Depression in young adults doesn’t consist of just moodiness and bouts of sadness or melancholy. Major Depressive Disorder is a serious problem that has the potential to affect many aspects of an individual’s life. While many well-adjusted adults have trouble learning how to deal with depression, it is even more difficult for young adults.

How to Deal with Depression: Signs of Depression in Young Adults

Because signs of depression can appear differently in younger individuals than they do in adults, depression is too often overlooked or undiagnosed in young adults. The following are signs and symptoms of depression in young adults.

  • Hostility, aggression, and persistent irritability
  • Changes in weight, eating patterns, and appetite (significant weight loss or gain, binge eating, hoarding food, avoiding food, not eating enough, etc.)
  • Lethargy or a significant decrease in energy
  • Reduced concentration
  • School failure/difficulties in school, a drop in grades, skipping school, or frequent absences
  • Defiant or rebellious behaviors
  • A sudden change in peer groups
  • Difficulties with one’s existing peer group
  • Lack of enjoyment or fulfilment from significant relationships.
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Difficulties making decisions
  • Family conflict or strained family relationships
  • Feelings of guilt or inadequacy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Increased alcohol consumption or experimenting with other drugs.
  • Changes in sleep patterns (excessive sleeping or difficulties sleeping)
  • Wanting to die or having suicidal thoughts
  • Self-injury, self-harm, or self-mutilation (cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Frequent complaints of physical ailments, visits to the physician (headaches, stomach aches, body pain)

It is vital to keep in mind that some of these symptoms of depression can also be normal behavior, or indicative of another mental illness or problem. For example, a young adult who has low self-esteem or dropping grades may have an undiagnosed learning disability. This is why severe depression can only be diagnosed by a trained, licensed health care provider or mental health professional who knows how to deal with depression in young adults.

However, if you have reviewed the signs of depression in young adults, and suspect that your child may be depressed, it is extremely important to act quickly.

  1. Talk to your son or daughter, express your concern, and find out more about his or her feelings.
  2. Maladaptive coping was the main predictor of depression, anxiety, and stress in young adults. Obtaining help from a credible mental health professional is vital to ensuring that your son or daughter develops the skills and tools needed to learn how to deal with depression.

To learn more about depression treatment options and programs for young adults with depression, download our free white paper, Depression and Anxiety in Young Adults.

Anxiety and Depression in Teens and Young Adults

About Aspiro Adventure Therapy

Aspiro Adventure’s Wilderness Therapy program was uniquely crafted to assist students and their families in creating lasting, life-long emotional changes through compassionate, intentional, research-backed, and safe outdoor adventure therapy programs. The mental health professionals at Aspiro Adventure understand individuals don’t come with instructions, and every student is unique, capable, and amazing in their own right. Aspiro Adventure focuses on helping adolescents, young adults, and their families through difficulties that occur when various behavioral, cognitive, or developmental issues are present. Research shows that engaging individuals on a personal level with strategic and intentional activities will aid in developing the tools and skills necessary to engage life in a healthy and positive way.

Additional Resources on Young Adult Depression:

By Josh Watson, LCSW, CMO at Aspiro Adventure Therapy Program
  • Josh Watson, LCSW
    Josh Watson, LCSW

3 thoughts on “16 Signs of Depression in Young Adults”

  1. You got my attention when you said that a significant decrease in energy and having difficulties in making decisions are signs of depression. My sister said that she was asked to undergo an immigration psychological evaluation for her immigration legal proceedings. She mentioned that she wanted to also confirm if she’s indeed suffering from depression because she has been spending her day sleeping because she has no energy at all to socialize with other people. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I like that you said that it’s possible that you’re experiencing depression if your sleep patterns have changed, and you stop socializing. That’s what actually my daughter has been doing because she has been isolating herself since her father died. I also noticed that she has been oversleeping and has no energy to do anything at all. My sister and I will make sure to find a counselor that can help her.

  3. You got me when you said that it’s possible that a teenager is suffering from depression if they harm themselves and keeps on avoiding other people. With that in mind, I’ll make sure to have my daughter treated and counseled by a professional. There were times that she tried to end her life. She said that losing her best friend due to an auto accident is the most painful experience that she has been enduring. What I want is for her to recover in the best possible way.


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Josh Watson, LCSW

Also specializes in: crisis de-escalation / anxiety resolution / frustration tolerance / verbal de-escalation / CBT/DBT / interpersonal relationships/leadership development

Josh has been working with adolescents, young adults, and their families since 2001. As an original member of the Aspiro Leadership Team, Josh has fulfilled several roles at Aspiro including Clinical Wilderness Therapist, Clinical Supervision, Admissions Director, Strategic Development, and currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer. He is passionate about carrying out the mission of Aspiro and creating the best possible experience for our clients. When Josh is not at work he enjoys traveling, cooking, outdoor adventure (of course!), golf, and spending time doing just about anything with his wife and two daughters.